Second-year cornerback Teez Tabor continues to struggle. Yet, the Detroit Lions will need to count on him more often moving forward.
Barely seeing the field on defense his first two seasons, Tabor looks out-of-place against NFL competition. Marked with a target on his back, quarterbacks routinely pick on him when he’s seen game action. There’s some way for the Lions to get the most out of him.
Somewhat slow, the young cornerback can’t stick with his man when pressed in coverage. Teez relies more on mental and physical quickness to make plays on the ball. Ultimately, zone coverage is a better fit for those skills.
Even after all the opportunities, he can’t put it all together. Interestingly enough, Tabor has played well in the red zone. In tighter quarters, he does a great job locating the football and swatting it away or boxing out the pass catcher completely. His aggressiveness fares well against bigger receivers as does his size (6 foot, 201 pounds) and leaping ability.
For such a scrappy corner, he still isn’t the strongest guy and can struggle with taking down ball carriers. Surprisingly, his tackling on special teams has been good. At least he’s making some impact somewhere and potentially improving in that facet.
When the rubber hits the road, what are the Lions to do with this young, once-promising cornerback? Luckily, a door has opened up.
Although somewhat unconfirmed, recent reports have speculated slot cornerback and All-Pro punt returner Jamal Agnew is lost for the season with a torn ACL. True or not, he’ll be out for a considerable amount of time, leaving an open hole.
This is a great chance for Tabor to prove himself. Recently promoted practice squad member Cre’Von LeBlanc, who’s played well from the slot, might have something to say about it. You can’t forget safety Quandre Diggs either, a former nickel back himself. Detroit has plenty of options and versatile players to fill the void.
Lacking in the speed department essentially limits him to cover inside. Last season, the Lions lined him up as a dime linebacker so he is not foreign to the idea of playing closer to the box.
Ironically, a lot of slot receivers are on the bigger side these days and even tight ends work in that area a lot too. Anytime there’s a physical receiver with height, that’s got Tabor written all over it.
Matchups are key, so is putting players in the best position to win. If the Detroit Lions want to turn this fan base’s opinion of their slow-developing cornerback around, relegating him to the slot and having him travel with larger pass catchers is a start.